What’s the Deal with Sour Beer?

June 10, 2016




What’s the Deal with Sour Beer?

If you follow the craft beer industry, you know that sour beers have become all the rage over the past few years. What you may not know, however, is that sour beer styles are nothing new. In fact, they’re some of the oldest styles in history.

If history serves us correctly, beer was one of the first beverages ever produced. Thousands of years ago, before humans had an understanding of bacteria and yeast, beer was naturally sour. As science evolved, brewers aimed to eliminate these microorganisms—and in turn the sour tastes associated with beer—through pasteurization, sterilization and refrigeration.

Fast forward to 2016, and sour beers are back with a vengeance. Why? Because they’re complex, difficult to produce and expensive. Marketing executives would tell you that the principle of supply and demand is at work here. Beer nerds are willing to pay hundreds of dollars to get their hands on a bottle of high-quality sour beer.

So, how do brewers make sour beers?

Without getting too technical, brewers can add certain bacteria and/or yeast strains to create these sour, tart or acidic tastes. One popular yeast is Brettanomyces, a wild yeast that is known for its “funky” or “earthy” aroma and contributes fruit flavors to beer. Some of the commonly used bacteria are Pediococcus and Lactobacillus, both of which contribute that sour flavor.

Sometimes, brewers take a natural approach—letting wild yeast and bacteria from the air into their beer. This approach can be more difficult to manage, and a little risky, but several breweries across the country take this risk and reap the benefits.

Now, the important part: which sour beers should you try? At Taco Mac, we consistently rotate our draft beers and update our bottle selection, so you can ask your bartender about what’s new and hot. Some beers we’ve had on tap recently include a local sour, Three Taverns Brewery’s Inceptus, and the nationally-known Allagash Little Brett.

Have you given sour beers a try? If not, try one sometime soon and let us know what you think!

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